THE Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has condemned in very strong terms the indefinite suspension of the licences of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC. The two stations belonged to Daar Communications Limited.
In a statement by the NGE on Friday in Lagos, the Guild demands in clear terms the revocation of the suspension order as it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom.
“This is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.
“The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people. The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision.
“The Guild strongly believes the NBC action is a draconian forms of regulation, being out of tune with democratic principles,” the statement said.
The Guild expressed concern over the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and noted that the absence of media freedom, independence and the stifling of operations of media outfits, which are performing their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society.
The NGE condemns in strong terms the barbaric crackdown on the broadcast outfit and demands immediate cessation of this atrocious repression and excessive show of power by the NBC, whose duty is to regulate and not kill the media.
It noted that muzzling the media and throwing thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labour market should not be the trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator; it is something to be ashamed of and the NBC should be ashamed at its action in a fledgling democracy in the 21st Century.
The Guild urged the NBC to concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force in exercising its regulatory powers.
The Guild, therefore, expresses its solidarity with the AIT/Raypower family and urged the staff and management to remain calm as the Guild liaises with well meaning Nigerians and other media professionals to get justice.
The NGE appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to use his good offices to call the NBC to order.
It recalled that the NBC had, before the 2019 general elections, shut down Joy FM in Jos for violations of the broadcasting code. Last year, the NBC shut down Ekiti Radio/TV station.
The Guild noted that shutting down stations and withdrawing of licences are too extreme in the circumstance and appealed for humane and saner ways of resolving disputes bordering on violation of the Broadcasting Code.
– June 7, 2019 @ 08:15 GMT /